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Mark Watson's Tips for a Successful Life

Mark Watson has some thoughts. In his series, helpfully called Mark Watson Talks A Bit About Life, he reveals how you can make the most of your days with these simple tips. Here's some more advice from Mark himself...

For many of us, life is a baffling experience. We stagger from challenge to challenge without seeming to learn from our mistakes, like a rat in an experimental maze – one that’s hungover from a convention of rats held the previous night.

That’s why, with my colleagues Sam Simmons and Will Adamsdale, I took it upon myself to compile a comprehensive guide to the human experience. It feels good to have solved the problems which held humanity back so long, and I can present a few of our findings, from different episodes of our Radio 4 series, in distilled form here.

1. Work and play

Many of us are conscious that the "work/play" balance in our life is slightly off. There are people who claim to "work hard AND play hard’", but we are instinctively suspicious of these people as they’re usually seen on The Apprentice and the next sentence they utter is something like "if I was a yoghurt, I’d be one of those thick and creamy ones, but instead of pieces of fruit, I’m full of money."

How can we get the balance right? An easy way is to ensure your "work" involves "play", by becoming a professional board-game player. Tournament Scrabble pays millions and is educational, too. What are you waiting for? (Remember to make the most of the triple-word squares; never leave one for your opponent to latch on to...)

Listen to Work and Play

2. Spirituality

Is there life after death, and if so, is it a sort of Heaven and Hell system of the kind that many faith systems are based on?

It’s impossible to know for sure, and it’s a shame not to have any fun in your life. So, as an insurance policy, get used to saying "whoops – I didn’t mean to do that" after any naughty deeds. Also, it’s worth wearing a mask because we don’t know how advanced cosmic surveillance systems might be.

Listen to Spirituality

3. Scandinavia

Can we learn from our near neighbours, the Danish, the Swedes, with their famously high satisfaction levels, their beards, their compelling dramas about horrible murder? What makes their societies so high-functioning? Is that their high levels of taxation?

Try it in your own life: next time you give your nephew £20 in a birthday card, wait a few months and then send a letter asking for £13.50 of it back.

Listen to Scandinavia

4. Possessions

Do you ever think that we might be happier without any of the things you own? Without your fancy car, that new pair of boots, the Le Creuset pots and pans? Do you ever think about just making a bonfire of the whole lot?

Well, don’t be so stupid. You saved up for those boots. People admire the kitchenware every time you have a dinner party. Without the car, good luck getting to Darren’s wedding because he’s decided to have it in bloody Devon even though the family’s got no connection to that area of the country.

Honestly, you need to get over this thing where you just chuck all your stuff on a bonfire every time you’re feeling a bit restless. There have been a lot of complaints.

Listen to Possessions